It’s the age-old question for deck care: staining versus painting? So, which is better for your deck, staining or painting? Simply put: it’s a matter of personal preference.
Whether you stain, paint, or simply just seal your deck, it is extremely important that you protect your deck with regular maintenance!
Is it Time to Paint or Stain? Try the Sprinkle Test
One of the easiest ways you can check to see if your deck needs a refresh is the sprinkle test! Simply sprinkle some water on the surface of your wood deck. If it beads up, then wait a few days and try again to see if you get the same results. However, if the water sits and then absorbs into the wood, you’ll know it’s time to stain, paint, or seal it again.
Deck Stain Basics
Stains can make wood look amazing. They do a great job of highlighting the beauty of the natural wood grain. Many people prefer stain simply because it has a more natural look.
If you are using stain, you’ll have to do maintenance on your decking from periodically. The frequency of maintenance will depend on things where you live, how much you use your deck, what type of weather you have, the color of the stain, quality of the stain, and the prep work that went into staining the deck. Therefore, it pays to do it right the first time.
Since there are both solid and semi-transparent stains, wear and tear will affect them differently. On average, a deck should be re-stained every few years in most cases to protect and preserve the wood.
What are Water and Oil Stains?
There are different kinds of stains to consider. You may see water-based stains, which can adhere to water or oil-based coatings already present on the deck surface, depending on the area. These stains are easily cleaned up with water, as well.
However, oil-based stains will ONLY adhere to wood previously stained with an oil-based product. So, in this case you cannot layer paint or water-based stain over it without sanding off the old stain first. Oil-based stain can be cleaned up with paint thinner.
Deck Paint Basics
Paint is another common protective coating. If you choose to use paint, you won’t see the discoloration of the wood or any imperfections until the paint itself is removed. Although the required maintenance for a painted deck may be less, just like stain, it will depend on the location, the weather, and how much use your deck gets.
Also, when you select paint, you need to look for exterior deck/patio paint, which is formulated for outdoor weather and foot traffic. Don’t use the leftover paint you used to paint your bathroom!
Just know that in some areas of the country, or if the surface is not properly prepared and sealed, paint can flake. If that happens, you may find painting takes a lot of work to maintain. If you are wondering if this will be a problem, look at other exterior places that are painted and note their condition.
Many don’t know you can get a clear sealant for your deck if you love the unique look of the wood. No matter what you choose to do, it’s always a good idea, to make sure you reseal your deck once a year.